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Opinion Blogs
One Man's Opinion: Getting at the Root Cause of the Flood of Mass Shootings
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One Man's Opinion: Getting at the Root Cause of the Flood of Mass Shootings

One Man's Opinion: Getting at the Root Cause of the Flood of Mass Shootings
Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images
DAYTON, OHIO - AUGUST 04: Mourners leave flowers and candles at the entrance of Ned Peppers bar in the Oregon District following a memorial service to recognize the victims of a mass shooting early this morning on August 04, 2019 in Dayton, Ohio. Many of the victims were reported to have been shot in front of the bar. At least 9 people were reported to have been killed and another 27 injured when a gunman identified as 24-year-old Connor Betts opened fire with a AR-15 style rifle. The shooting comes less than 24 hours after a gunman in Texas opened fire at a shopping mall killing at least 20 people. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

One Man's Opinion: Getting at the Root Cause of the Flood of Mass Shootings

"I'm outraged, and you should be too. This entire nation should be outraged," said El Paso, Sheriff Richard Wiles in the wake of a mass shooting at a Walmart ending more than 20 lives. 

I suspect like many Americans, I am still a bit numb with the horrific news of the latest two back to back mass shootings, still ringing in the ears of local law enforcement in the border town of El Paso, Texas as well as in the heart of Ohio, Dayton. And as advocates on both sides of the gun control debate line up and open fire on each other across online spaces...I sit and wonder if this too isn't part of the division these shooters want to foment? A race war? A new civil war? 

Another young white male, another 'manifesto,' more than 30 innocent lives lost, dozens more injured...and where/when does it end? No one really has an answer for that, so perhaps we should try harder to determine where this is all beginning. 

I have spent in my volunteer life, much of the past few decades remaining engaged with college students, both through my alma mater, the Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia, as well as through my college fraternity, Phi Kappa Tau, at both the local and national levels. Where much of college life remains the same, as campus culture and society evolve, I've noted a significantly general softening among my younger male counter-parts on most college campuses today, which has at times caused me both pause and concern. 

Alienation, non-socialization and remaining a virgin against one's will or life plans are powerful seeds planted towards building resentment and hatred. Who is to blame? How to reassert or change one's status? It's not difficult to see a pattern to fame and glory and even some degree of notoriety playing out an afternoon of Fortnite in the real world.

BagoGames/Flickr
Link to photo license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/.
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One Man's Opinion: Getting at the Root Cause of the Flood of Mass Shootings

Photo Credit: BagoGames/Flickr
Link to photo license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/.

For those unfamiliar, Fortnite (created in 2017) is an online video gaming platform with three separate games, each played by millions. Fortnite Battle Royale, which can be played simultaneously by as many as 100, pits player against player in a battle of survival of the fittest, ending when all but one player has been eliminated or killed. I have walked in on a few groups playing this game with great passion and enthusiasm, the gun play and swearing might only be louder at a convention among mercenaries of war. 

There will again be talk of gun control reform. However, Chicago, Illinois, with some of the most stringent gun laws in the nation, and also one of the world's highest rates of murder and violent crime, experienced dozens of separate shootings and nearly 40 deaths the same horrific weekend. Yes, we can revisit the law, but isn't it time we also re-visit how we raise our young men? 

I did not walk six miles to school, through the snow each day, barefooted...but household chores, mowing our lawn and part-time jobs became routine during what would have then been middle school years. Real life lessons of adversity, work ethic, dues paying, conflict resolution and accepting constructive criticism had all been learned well before the middle of high school. 

As a late Baby Boomer, we were also towards the end of the Selective Service and potential draft, which I'm not suggesting be re-instated, however I can see great benefit in renewing discussions of a year or two of national service work just after high school. As with serving in our nation's military, the common duty, common mission and shared surroundings might help serve as a great equalizer. 

We are yet entering fall of this year, and 125 Americans have already lost their lives in mass shootings. As schools start back, how many children are heading to their classrooms in fear, and how many parents are wondering if they have done enough to prepare their offspring for sudden attack? 

Whether or not you agree with it taking the whole village to raise a child, I'll wager a majority of you can well remember when your neighbors almost all knew one and other, and at times came to assist without ever being asked. Conflict is a part of life, and building coping skills for such challenges are as important as developing coordination, balance and muscle strength for sport. 

It is time for a national conversation and determining the root causes of this plague. If the Ebola virus or some other virulent strain attacked and killed a few hundred Americans in a period of months, we would fight back with all of our national will and unlimited resources. Finding this cure may take a bit longer, but certainly there are steps we can begin to take as soon as today to move us in a better and safer direction. Our sympathies and condolences to those grieving the lives lost. And prayers do matter as well.

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News

  • A new environmental foundation backed by Leonardo DiCaprio is pledging $5 million in aid to the Amazon, which has been swept by wildfires. >> Read more trending news  According to The Associated Press, Earth Alliance, an environmental foundation that was created last month by DiCaprio and philanthropists Laurene Powell Jobs and Brian Sheth, launched the Amazon Forest Fund.  The alliance is also seeking donations to help repair the Brazilian rainforest, called the “lungs of the planet.” Brazilian federal experts reported a record number of wildfires across the country this year, up 84% over the same period in 2018. The funds will be distributed to five local groups working to combat the problem: Instituto Associacao Floresta Protegida, Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon, Instituto Kabu, Instituto Raoni and Instituto Socioambiental. Backed by military aircraft, Brazilian troops are deploying in the Amazon to fight fires that have swept the region and prompted anti-government protests as well as an international outcry. Brazil contains about 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest, whose degradation could have severe consequences for global climate and rainfall. Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro, who has said he wants to convert land for cattle pastures and soybean farms, won office after channeling outrage over the corruption scandals of the former government. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A large crowd gathered Sunday morning at RiverScape MetroPark for a service hosted by Kanye West. >> Read more trending news  Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and their children held the Sunday Service in support of the victims and survivors of the mass shooting at the city of Dayton’s historic Oregon District. Several other celebrities, including Dave Chappelle and Michael Che, of “Saturday Night Live,” also were seen at the service, which lasted about two hours. “The best way we can honor our fallen is by getting up better than we were before,” Chappelle told the crowd. “We won’t let those people die in vain.” Two attendees said they had a great time at the service this morning. “It was really fun. I actually got to be a part of the Sunday Service choir,” Chaelyn Allen said. “We been rehearsing for, like, a few days this week, so it was really fun.” “I think it was awesome, a great cause,” Shantel Wilder said. “It feels good to be a part of it.”
  • Disney is completely reinventing Epcot. At its D23 expo in Anaheim, California, this weekend, the company announced some major changes coming to the park. >> Read more trending news  The company kicked off its announcements with Journey of Water, Inspired by 'Moana.' The attraction will let guests 'interact with magical, living water in a beautiful and inspiring setting.' The upcoming 'Guardians of the Galaxy' ride finally has a name. The company announced it will be called 'Guardians of the Galaxy': Cosmic Rewind. It will feature 'the first reverse launch into space.' In the park's Mission Space pavilion, the company announced a new restaurant called Space 220. It will open this winter and is described as 'an out-of-this-world culinary experience with celestial panorama of a space station, including daytime and nighttime views of Earth from 220 miles up.' The United Kingdom pavilion in the World Showcase will welcome the first attraction inspired by 'Mary Poppins' in Cherry Tree Lane, the company announced. We don't know a lot about this attraction other than it will be the first for the United Kingdom pavilion. The park also announced a new pavilion at World Celebration. It will be the home base for Epcot's signature festivals, providing a view of the World Showcase. The company said it will be a three-level structure and will become a new icon for Epcot. Finally, the company announced a new nighttime spectacular called 'HarmonioUS.' It is said to be the largest nighttime show created for a Disney park. Disney said it will celebrate how the music of Disney inspires people around the world. For more information, visit the Disney Parks Blog.
  • Firefighters came to the rescue of a dog that got stuck on a roof overnight Saturday in Everett, Washington.  South County Fire tweeted that the dog went out an open window onto a narrow roof and couldn't turn around to get back in. Firefighters were able to get the scared pup back inside.
  • The Cocoa Beach Police Department arrested Joseph McKinney, 40, of Texas, after he allegedly threatened to conduct a shooting at a hotel. >> Read more trending news  Investigators said McKinney was taken into custody after he got off a cruise ship at Port Canaveral on Sunday morning.  Police responded to the Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront Hotel on Friday after the hotel received an electronic guest review expressing McKinney’s displeasure about his recent stay, according to police. Officers said McKinney’s review contained threatening language and made reference to an “active shooter style” event at the hotel. McKinney was charged with making written threats to kill, do bodily injury or conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism. He was transported to the Brevard County Jail and is being held on $25,000 bail.
  • Atlanta police last week released a video showing a suspect in a shooting at a block party at the Atlanta University Center that wounded four students. No one has stepped forth to identify that man, so on Sunday, Atlanta City Council member Cleta Winslow said she is adding $3,000 more in reward money to better incentivize someone’s good citizenship. The reward will now be $5,000. “This is personal,” Winslow said after a short press conference near the AUC campus. “Parents send their children to our town. They need assurance that they are safe.” Four women — two students from Spelman College, two from Clark Atlanta University — were shot or grazed Tuesday night outside the Robert W. Woodruff Library during a party before the first day of school. Police believe the young man in the video was involved in a confrontation in which four or five shots were fired in the plaza crowded with 200 students. Police said that perhaps a second possible gunman was targeted by the suspect but that the women were not intended targets. One of the victims was shot in the chest, but all are expected to recover. Police said they are getting some tips but have not gotten enough information to make an arrest. Longtime civic activist Michael Langford said, “I want to appeal to the community at large because no crime occurs without someone knowing, hearing or seeing something. “And while the money is there, I want to appeal to your moral conscience to come forward because the only thing it takes for evil to exist in our community it for good people to sit back and do nothing.” Winslow said she had just met with student leaders to assure them of their safety. Both Atlanta and Atlanta University Center police said they have beefed up patrols in the areas that area. » RELATED: Concerns on Atlanta campuses after shooting » RELATED: Tighter campus security